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More Minnesota counties to restrict burning permits

An additional 18 Minnesota counties will no longer be issuing burning permits as of 8 a.m. April 14, according to a news release from the Minnesota Interagency Fire Center. The issuing of permits will resume later this spring when wildfire conditions improve.

Counties that will stop issuing permits until further notice include Aitkin, Itasca, Carlton, St. Louis south of Highway 16, Cass, Clearwater, Crow Wing, Hubbard, Wadena, Becker, Ottertail, Douglas, Pope, Grant, Stevens, Mahnomen, Polk east of County Road 6 and Beltrami south of Highway 1. The Red Lake Indian Reservation will also temporarily stop issuing permits.

Eighteen counties in central Minnesota already restrict burning permits.

Every year, the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources and local fire departments issue the standard warnings and regulations about wildland fire. Every spring, the DNR is called to hundreds of human-caused fires across northern Minnesota.

"Most people know that when the ground is not snow covered, burning permits are required," said Jeff Straub, a forestry technician and firefighter from Roy Lake. "I am not sure everyone understands why.

"The first reason is so that we can limit most burning to the evening hours when burning conditions are less severe and the chances of an escaped fire are diminished," he said. "The evening hours are usually more humid and less windy."

The second reason for burning permits is that the DNR flies aerial fire detection during fire season whenever there is a threat of wildfire.

"On any given day there may be as few as one or as many as three aircraft flying within sight of your county looking for smoke," Straub said. "The burning permit system helps limit the number of false alarms these pilots have to investigate.

"The burning permit system is designed to aid fire fighting forces - keeping you, and us, safe," he continued. "In all my years fighting fire in Mahnomen County, there have been two lightning-caused fires and two power-line fires. All the rest have been human caused."